Thursday, September 27, 2012

Planning and Reaching Goals in Your Personal Life, Ministry, or Business

Planning and Reaching Goals
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the Philippines

David and Solomon’s Temple. Solomon succeeded because David planned and prepared

State Your Vision

Habbakuk 2:2 “Write the vision and make it plain.”

Dreams that are not written are easily forgotten. If you are pastoring, you and your leadership team should decide prayerfully decide what God’s vision is for you, and you should be able to write it in one sentence. A good example is the vision statement for one USA based Christian group known as the Navigators “to know Christ and to make him known.” Once you have determined what your mission is, you should set goals and the specific action steps that you need to take in order to accomplish these goals.

Once we have written our vision, then we can set goals and plan action steps to achieve our goals. In goal setting, we will use the acronym SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable (meaning that you will know when you have accomplished it), Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound (i.e. a deadline)(adapted from Dave Ramsey’s book EntreLeadership and probably others).

So that this lesson will be easy to understand, we will use Nehemiah’s reconstruction of the wall around Jerusalem at the end of the Babylonian captivity as an example of setting SMART goals.

What is your vision for your life, job, or ministry?

Nehemiah’s vision: 2:5 To restore the city of Jerusalem as the dwelling place for God’s name.

He knew this was the will of God because of Deuteronomy 30:2-3.

Make Your Plan

To accomplish his vision, he needed a plan. Note that he made many of his plans before going to the king.

Nehemiah’s first goal was to rebuild the wall around the city (2:13). Why was this his first goal?

Was it SMART?

Specific? Yes, he wanted to rebuild the wall.
Measurable? In other words, would Nehemiah know when he accomplished the goal? Yes,--it would be obvious to all when the wall had been rebuilt.
Achievable? Yes, with adequate provisions, skill, and labor, they could do the work
Relevant? –Yes, a city built as a dwelling place for God needed a wall to protect it from Israel’s enemies that surrounded the city.
Time bound? Yes, in 2:6, he gave the king a deadline for completing all of his work, which included the wall. Careful planning in advance was necessary to ensure that the work was done in a timely manner.

What were his Action Steps?
  • He got permission to travel (2:5-6).
  • He requested official documents to get construction materials (2:7).
  • He examined the wall to see what needed to be done—Knowing what must be done is critical to actually making a plan.
  • He cast the vision and mobilized the citizens of the city to help (2:17).
  • He organized the workers to simultaneously repair various sections of the wall (chapter 3).
  • He made a plan and took appropriate action for dealing with their enemies (4:9-23).
  • He kept the workers focused on the job despite the threat of opposition (4:9-23).
  • He dealt with problems among his people in a godly, forthright manner (chapter 5) and still kept them focused on finishing the wall.
  • He succeeded because he had planned—in accordance with his God given vision (6:15)!

His Second Goal Was to Restore the Government Structure and Religious Worship

Was it SMART?

Specific To us it is not immediately specific, but to Nehemiah and the Jews it was clear that they wanted to rebuild Jerusalem as it had been in the past.
Measurable—Nehemiah knew that he needed to organize the people, both socially and spiritually, to live according to the written word of God.
Achievable—yes, if their hearts were wholly dedicated to God
Relevant—Living for the glory of God’s name is relevant in any generation
Time bound—While the principles of living by God’s word are timeless, Nehemiah had promised the king that all would be set in order by a specific time.

What were his Action Steps?
  • He appointed appropriate leaders (7:2)
  • He took a census (7:5-73)
  • He dealt with their spiritual lives (8:1-12)
  • He restored public worship (8:13-18)
  • He led them in a time of national repentance and restoration (chapter 9)
  • He recognized the social ordering of their society (10:1-27)
  • He established civil regulations according to the word of God (10:28-12:26)
  • They concluded everything with a fiesta for the glory of God (12:27-47)!!

All of his action steps were accomplished through prayer, research, and careful planning.

Exercise One

1. Write what your vision is regarding your church or ministry assignment  Make sure that it is clearly written and can be said in only one sentence.


2. Have each student write at least two goals for accomplishing that vision, making sure that all goals are SMART. Any goals that cannot be done through the SMART pattern should be revised or changed.


3. Have each student write down the action steps necessary to achieve their goals.

Exercise Two Have each leader follow the same process in setting personal goals. Be sure that they do not write goals about things they do not wish to share with the group. Use the back side of this page for this.

*All Scripture references are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Want to See People Set Free From Witchcraft and Idolatry?

An Appeal For Help
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the Philippines


Many, if not most, Filipinos are deeply involved in idolatry, witchcraft, and other occult practices that enslave them to Satan. Virtually every community has an annual fiesta and procession in honor of their patron saint, not God, whom they believe sends rain and protects them from pestilence and natural disasters.

Thousands of witches and warlocks dot the landscape. In just a few weeks, millions will go to the gravesites of their ancestors and leave offerings or light candles for the spirits of the dead that, they believe, return annually to their graves. Untold numbers consult fortune tellers to make life’s major decisions. Television programs and comic books galore portray various spirits and demons impacting the daily lives of the characters involved. Local folklore is replete with tales of ghosts and goblins—stories many parents routinely tell their children to make them behave. Consequently, most Filipinos live in dread of the spirit world and try to protect themselves with various kinds of amulets and charms.

Over 400 years of Roman Catholicism and 100 years of Protestant Christianity, with the possible exception of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, have failed to seriously impact the animistic worldview that undergirds these practices.  But thank God that the Bible has the answers to all of these issues.  Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32 NKJV). My heart yearns for Filipinos to experience this freedom.  The Bible, especially the New Testament is replete with teaching about what God has done, through sending Jesus to the Cross, to set people free.  

The most fundamental need is to disciple Filipinos regarding the truth about the spirit world. Unfortunately, very little literature, apart from the Bible itself, has been produced within the Filipino cultural context to help do this.

I want to change that.

I am in the final processes of writing a book, which has been reviewed by a theological expert, that will offer solid biblical, Pentecostal, teaching that is designed to help lead people out of Satanic bondage and into God’s marvelous liberty.

But I need your help.

I need to raise $3,000.00 immediately to cover the initial cost of publishing the first 500 copies of this book. Your special offering in any amount would be appreciated. Here’s how you can help. (1) You can give through our website, or through the website of the Assemblies of God World Missions, (note that on the AGWM website you will need to search for our name in the missionary directory first). (2) You can also send your gift through your church, if you attend an Assemblies of God church in America. (3) You can send it directly to our account. Make your check out to Assemblies of God World Missions and, in the memo line, write Dave and Debbie Johnson—Philippines, account 225600 class 88, and send it to AGWM 1445 Boonville Ave Springfield MO 65802.  If you can give, please also let me know by email at and let me know how much you are sending so that I can be prepared. If you aren’t supporting us regularly and would be able to do, we would appreciate it. We could certainly use the help.

Thank you so much for giving so that Filipinos can be set free to serve a risen and all-powerful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Dave Johnson

PS If more than $3,000.00 comes in, I will either print more copies or hold the excess in reserve for future books that I plan to write on these subjects.

PLEASE NOTE: Permission is hereby given to forward, print, and post this blog as long as it is done as a complete blog, and its authorship is acknowledged. Thank you for your cooperation.  For automatic notification of future blogs please visit and click on “join this site.”

Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Update on The Little Girl in the Legaspi Hospital

Update on The Little Filipino Girl in the Hospital
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the Philippines

Dear Friends,

The little girl’s mother told Debbie that she prayed that God would either heal her completely or take her home to heaven. God answered her prayers—both of them. Yesterday morning, about 11:30am local time, Jesus came and took the child to heaven. She is now in perfect health and, her parents, quite understandably, are devastated. Words were useless at this point. Just being there was what mattered. Please pray for the family at this time, especially as they try to explain this to their seven year son who was not able to come to the hospital.

When she got the call, Debbie and a friend rushed to the hospital. Alan, one of my team members and I met them there a bit later. They lived more than an hour away and wanted to make funeral arrangements with a funeral home in their town. When you don’t have life insurance to pay the bills, calling the mortuary to pick up the body is out of the question. The hospital kindly wrapped her in a blanket from head to toe and, with their permission and gracious help, we loaded little her little body, with rigor mortis already setting in, into the truck so lovingly provided by the Assemblies of God young people in Michigan through the Speed-the-Light program, and carried her to the funeral home ourselves. Her parents held her the whole time. While Americans are squeamish about these kinds of things and may even think it macabre, Filipinos have no such qualms and took it all in stride—they were just grateful for our help. I think this is the first time I ever handled a dead body, and I won’t mind if it’s my last. Debbie voluntarily remained in Legaspi due to lack of space in the truck.

For those not familiar with Filipino burial rites, the body will lay in state in the family’s home for several days, with nightly wake services. Many will call on the family to pay their respects. Filipinos are a social people so they will also just visit and swap stories. However, there are some challenges. Since the family traditionally provides dinner for all guests every night, the costs can be horrific, although many friends and family will bring food or cash gifts. In Christian circles, having a short nightly service is also common and provides an excellent opportunity for evangelism.

Because of the distance we will not likely participate much in the wake services, but the girl’s parents and brother will be surrounded by family, friends, and church members—many of whom could not help when they were in Legaspi, so they will be well taken care of. We do not know the date for the funeral, but at least Debbie will be present for that.

While this entire situation obviously did not turn out as we had hoped and prayed, there are some things for which Debbie and I are grateful. One, we have the hope of heaven. Thank God, for the Christian, death does not have the last word. While this precious child’s death is surely the cause of great sorrow, death has no sting or victory because we have the assurance that we shall see her again (1 Corinthians 15:57-58). Second, we are thankful that she lingered long enough for her family and friends to say goodbye. Third, we thank God that the time in the hospital was not protracted for weeks or months. As terrible as this has been, it could certainly have been worse. Fourth, Debbie and I are deeply honored that we could be there when they needed us, and we are so grateful for our friends and supporters in the States who made that possible. And last but certainly not least, we are so thankful for all of your prayers, emails, and Facebook posts letting us know that you are there for us and the family.

We love you all,

Dave and Debbie

PS. In a previous email I implied that the hospital did not provide food. Then I found out that they do feed the patients, just not the caregivers. My apologies for the misinformation. For the most part, the hospital staff provided excellent services considering the limitations under which they have to work and for which they are not responsible.

PLEASE NOTE: Permission is hereby given to forward, print, and post this blog as long as it is done as a complete blog, and its authorship is acknowledged. Thank you for your cooperation.  For automatic notification of future blogs please visit and click on “join this site.”

Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Urgent Prayer Request From a Philippine Hospital

Urgent Prayer Request From a Philippine Hospital
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the Philippines


We have an urgent prayer request for a six year old Filipino girl and her parents, who are all Christians, and whose names are withheld to protect their privacy.  Here’s the latest. Both the girl’s lungs and at least one kidney are damaged. I’m not sure if this is related to her having lupus or not since I don’t know much about the disease. She has contracted a cold as well. She has been comatose for the last day or so. Doctors give her a 50-50 chance of survival, which appears to be an improvement over what we all thought last night. She remains in Pediatric ICU at a government hospital in the Bicol Region of the Philippines.

One of the major challenges that she air pump she is on is hand operated—no electric one being available. The pump has to be manned 24/7 by a family member or friend. The hospital does not provide this service. The poor parents alternated every two hours through the night so they didn’t get much sleep. Debbie, who has been at the hospital several times, is pumping right now, and I will lend a hand later.

The husband works on another island and had to make an emergency trip home when he heard the news, but traveling takes time here, meaning that the wife and girl were at the hospital without him for at least 24 hours. We were there last night when the husband arrived. Somehow I managed not to say something dumb like “hey, friend, how are you?” Or worse, “I understand what you’re going through.” I don’t have a clue. I just put my arm around him and walked him to the door of the PICU. He took over the air pump immediately so I didn’t have a chance to talk to him.

Debbie and the wife are good friends, and she works for us from time to time. So far we are processing this ok internally. All the questions about why God is allowing this have run through my mind. Biblical authors and the theologians that follow them haven’t resolved this issue in thousands of years of reflection, so I’m sure I won’t either.  Habakkuk dealt with a similar issue in the Old Testament book that bears his name. In the end, he came to this conclusion: Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (3:18-19 NKVJ).

I thought that those of you not familiar with government run hospitals in a developing nation might like a description, so keep reading. For the most part, private hospitals are better if you can afford it.

The Pediatrics ICU (PICU) is just inside the Pediatrics ward. It’s a small room and only parents or those handling the air pump are allowed inside along with the medical staff.
Shoes must be removed to keep the dust level down.

The Pediatrics ward itself is a large room, crammed full of beds and people and no privacy. The place is clean but hardly sterile. In the Philippines, both in public and private hospitals, each patient needs to have their own caretaker to supplement the nursing staff. The guardian can stay 24/7 but needs to provide their own bed in the public wards. If you want a chair, you bring it with you—unless you are an American brave enough to ask the nurses for one.

Ventilator is poor.

There is one large, unisex bathroom with multiple enclosed stalls—complete with buckets and hand dippers for bathing…but bring your own soap and toilet paper. Dishwashing facilities are provided in the rest room area because you bring your own food (and dishwashing detergent), but there is no cooking onsite. Considering the circumstances, bringing your own food is probably a good idea. 

Medicine has to be purchased by the family before being administered. Cash upfront. No money. No meds. No exceptions. And all medical bills must be settled before leaving the hospital.

Now for the lighter side. Does this hospital treats animals? Last night we saw two mother cats, one of which has a kitten residing in the Pediatrics ward. The kitten was scrawny with unruly hair. It truly looked like it needed to be there! We all had a much needed good chuckle at the sight. Now I have seen everything!

Keep praying. We will keep you posted.


Dave and Debbie

PLEASE NOTE: Permission is hereby given to forward, print, and post this blog as long as it is done as a complete blog, and its authorship is acknowledged. Thank you for your cooperation.  For automatic notification of future blogs please visit and click on “join this site.”

Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Things That Matter (Or Lessons From a Graveyard)

Things That Matter (Or Lessons From a Graveyard)
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the Philippines

The other days some friends and I attended the funeral of a good friend, Pastor Andy, who died of cancer at the age of 49. This is the second funeral I’ve attended in the last few months of someone who, in my opinion, died far too young.

The last service was held at the cemetery. In the Philippines, the water table is too high to bury most people below the soil, so they are encased in cement in tombs above the ground with a gravestone on one end of the encasement. After the service, I found myself glancing around, reading names and pertinent dates on the other tombstones. I found myself asking “who were these people, what did they do with their lives, and what did they leave behind?” While I couldn’t answer these questions regarding these people, I could reflect on Pastor Andy’s life.

Although he wasn’t poor, Pastor Andy didn’t have much regarding the things of this world. I never heard him complain, and I will long remember his warm smile and kind demeanor. He had invested his life in pastoral ministry—caring for people in the name of Jesus. He loved both the Lord of the work and the work of the Lord.  What did he leave behind? A wife and three children who loved him, many friends, like me, who were deeply touched by his life, and no doubt countless others, whose lives were transformed by the gospel he preached. In the things that mattered, Pastor Andy was a rich man.

Like everyone else, I yearn for my life to count for something, to leave this world a better place, and to do something of benefit to others that will last long after I have gone on to glory. I know that, if done for God’s glory and His name, those dreams can be fulfilled. But I also hear the echo of the siren song of this world, luring me into the lie of self-fulfillment, self-aggrandizement, and building a name for myself, only to leave me shipwrecked on the shores of ruined dreams and broken lives. My prayer is that, like Pastor Andy, I would invest my life in things that matter. What about you?   

PLEASE NOTE: Permission is hereby given to forward, print, and post this blog as long as it is done as a complete blog, and its authorship is acknowledged. Thank you for your cooperation.  For automatic notification of future blogs please visit and click on “join this site.”

Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson